SUIT YOURSELF INTERVIEWS 6T'S HEAD HONCHO ADY CROASDELL
Every now and then, an opportunity comes along to interview someone who's influence on a particular scene means so much to so many, Suit Yourself feel very honoured to be able to interview this particular person, from the early 1980's this mans musical genius has opened the ears of a generation. His success as a record label boss only equalled by his success as a club promoter, Ladies and Gentleman with great pleasure we would like to introduce you to the man behind Kent records and the legendary 6T's 100 club All nighters.........MR ADY CROASDELL.
Hi Ady, can you please tell us about your young self, your early influences and the introduction to the scene you have become so prominent in and when and how this happened.
"I was born in 1952 so i was 13/14 in 1966, the year it really kicked off for me. My older sister was moddish, I remember her getting the Rescue Me LP for her 18th birthday; and Barefootin'. I loved music through my dad's 78s and then through the charts and pirate radio stations. I bought Otis Blue as a new release, maybe 66 or 67 and had Otis & Carla King And Queen. My sister's friend lent me Mose Allison 'Sings And Plays', John Coltrane 'My Favourite Things', Love 'Da Capo', The Temptations Greatest Hits. I was into country blues-Sleepy John Estes, Maxwell St Jimmy Davis and folk-Judy Collins, the first Incredible String band LP and Fairport Convention. I got into psych through Sergeant Pepper, Love, Doors, Iron Butterfly and Britsh Blues through Chicken Shack, John Mayall, Ten Years After. I collected every Animals single by 1968 and started on Motown which I would eventually have every UK issue of".
Musically what were your early influences, what were the clubs you frequented and how did you begin your DJ career.
"The Frollocking Kneecap in Market Harborough, my home town was my local and the best. I saw Brenton Wood, Family (3 times, once with Fairport jamming with them) , Pesky Gee, Zoot Money, Cliff Bennett, Fat Matress, Ferris Wheel. I saw Howlin' Wolf at the Il Rondo in Leicester, John Lee Hooker on the Americak Folk Blues Tour at the De Mont in Leicester. I used to hitch to Mothers in Brum to see Colosseum, King Crimson and others. Went to mod-soul clubs in Kettering and Northampton and then discovered my first "Old Soul" all nighter outside a village 5 miles out of Harboro called Kelmarsh in the first half of 1969. I've been collecting and involved with what they now call Northern soul ever since".
Can you tell us about your first DJ gig and some of your favourite times behind a set of turntables.
"I was a collector and promoter before I became a DJ. I started the 6TS Rhythm 'n' Soul Club with Randy Cozens in 1979, but London was blessed with great soul DJs so I didn't DJ until our first all nighter at the old mod club The Last Chance which I think was 29 Oxford St. Randy told me not to be shy and get behind the decks. It ran from 3 am on Friday night, after a New Romantic night which meant Boy George, Marilyn and others were traipsing past skinheads, mods and reprobates on the stairs waiting to go in. I enjoyed DJing, it was a brilliant night and an easy passage as they would have danced to the B sides. We left at 10 am on a Saturday morning walking out into the middle of Oxford St shopping crowds, pissed and blocked; two lots of culture clashes".
"My favourite DJ spots are the Sunday nights at Cleethorpes Weekender. I really enjoyed playing Vicenza in Italy in the 90s when I saw a whole new generation doing pretty much what I had done as a teenager."
What was the progression from avid DJ/Collector to record label owner, was this a natural thing or something that had to be worked on?
"I only ever owned Horaces Records which had 7 singles and 3 LPs, I work for Kent which is part of Ace Records. I've been here 35 years now so it feels like home. It was a logical progression to my collecting and running the club and i knew the owners from record buying and selling and we were part of a shared social scene arond Rock On in Camden, Soho market and Rocks Off on Hanway St. I suggested it to one of the Ace bosses, he said yes and it worked".
When did you first realise that the Kent record series was going to be a huge success? was it difficult signing artists and dealing with licensing from other labels?, which were your personal success stories and proudest moments in Kents history?
"The first LP landed at the right time and it was successful from the off. It only ever strugled when there was a year hiatus as people switched from vinyl to CD. It's been harder recently with shrinking CD sales but more vinyl has helped and the Kent fans have been amazingly loyal. Getting the Dave Hamilton tapes twenty-odd years ago and the Pied Piper ones recently were major buzzes. Discovering the RCA tapes in their Manhattan offices was a thrill and the first trip to the Scepter Wand vaults was somethin' else".
Which artists have you had the pleasure of working with, are there any that have been an inspiration to you?
"Lots of brilliant people; Maxine Brown, Little Ann, HB Barnum, Frank Dell, Bettye Swann, Dean Parrish and Doris Troy spring to mind for varying reasons. The Kent Cleethorpes CD goes into greater detail about the acts".
Moving through the years, how has the Kent story evolved, from early vinyl releases, to special 100 club anniversary releases, to CD's and into the world of digital, how has the brand stayed so strong.
"Having a reputation as an honest company who pay their royalties has been the biggest plus. The owners are all original 50s, 60s and 70s record collectors who revere the artists as much as I do and I can approach singers, writers and producers knowing they will get the best deal possible".
Could you name a favourite release? and a tune that you never thought you would be able to release but managed to in the end.
"The Lou Johnson CD is one I'm particularly proud of as we presented the tracks in great detail after much hard work in getting them and Lou is my favourite singer of them all and he and his wife appreciated my work. Best track released is probably Ben E King 'Gettin' To Me' acquired by my old vinyl hunting skills".
Moving onto your promotional career, how did the 6t's All nighters at the 100 club evolve?
"We switched to the 100 Club in 1981 when Randy dropped out of promoting and due to a regular weekly night taking over our Friday night monthly bash we changed it to all nighters starting after the jazz at 1.30 am-8am. Originally mainly oldies and the biggest new discoveries up North we forged our own style through DJ Ian Clark being ahead of the game. Got more progressive when Stafford led the way with Newies and continued to lead when we signed the top rare soul DJ Butch about 25 years ago. Having all the exclusive tape and acetate recordings helped vastly too. We were never as far out for hard core collectors and chin-strokers as Stafford could be so kept the excitement and buzz through the years, as well as changing the residents progressively over time".
How long has it been running for and have you seen a change in musical style over the years?
"38 years as 6TS, 36 at the 100 Club. More 70s at the moment on some nights but a solid base of 60s soul throughout. New discoveries are phased in over time so there's gradual , not stark progression".
How have you managed to stay fresh for so long?, do you have a roster of resident DJ's and do you have guests?
"Great guests as it's on most DJs wish list but I do try and keep it to people who attend occasionally anyway. The residents give it it's stability; it's always going to be a great and interesting night with the DJs we have".
How often do the nights happen and are there any other promotions that you are currently involved in?
"About 9 a year now and 2 oldies nights at Crossfire in London; I run the Northern Room - www.6ts.info
Do you see much in the way of young DJ talent coming through?
"Yes we've had three or four DJs in their early 20s and Tomas McGrath is a resident of that age".
In your opinion, what are your views on the modern rare soul scene compared that of yesteryear?
"Still good but much smaller now, the majority of soul fans want the records of their youths which is fine but the fans in search of the rare discoveries are less in number nowadays. But the ones who get it, get it and I'm happy to keep going while it still works and people enjoy it enough to travel, often very long distances, for it."
And lastly, do you have any future plans to release more music and are there any untapped labels and musical gems still left waiting to be discovered?
"Always, new old music turns up relatively frequently and we're lucky to be in the right place to get it and promote it and release it. There are several great deals I'm chasing at the moment which should keep us busy for a long while".